Godwin, Joscelyn
Hypnerotomachia Poliphili


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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream

The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, read by every Renaissance intellectual and referred to in studies of art and culture ever since. It is a strange, pagan, pedantic, erotic, allegorical, mythological romance relating in highly stylized Italian the quest of Poliphilo for his beloved Polia. The author (presumed to be Francesco Colonna, a friar of dubious reputation) was obsessed by architecture, landscape and costume and its 174 woodcuts are a primary source for Renaissance ideas on both buildings and gardens. In 1592 a beginning was made to produce an English version but the translator gave up partway. The task has been triumphantly accomplished by Joscelyn Godwin, who succeeds in reproducing all its wayward charm and arcane learning in language accessible to the modern reader.

First published by Aldus Manutius in 1499. The typography is famous for its quality and clarity. Its roman typeface, cut by Francesco Griffo, is a revised version of a type which Aldus had first used in 1496 for the De Aetna of Pietro Bembo. The type is thought to be one of the first examples of the roman typeface, and in incunabula, it is unique to the Aldine Press.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Joscelyn Godwin, Thames & Hudson, 2005

Paperback. Octavo. New. 474 pp.